25m NIS for 70 outstanding PhD

Entrepreneur Yuri Milner, co-founder of the Breakthrough Prize, donated the fellowship fund to support PhD students at the Technion, Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University

(L-R) Julia and Yuri Milner with presidents Prof. Joseph Klafter, Prof. Peretz Lavie and Prof. Asher Cohen

(L-R) Julia and Yuri Milner with presidents Prof. Joseph Klafter, Prof. Peretz Lavie and Prof. Asher Cohen

In honor of Israel’s 70th anniversary, Russian-born Israeli technology entrepreneur, investor and science philanthropist Yuri Milner, who resides in the USA, is establishing a fellowship fund of $7m (25m NIS) for 70 students at three Israeli universities. The decision to establish “70 for 70 Fellowships” program is based on his belief that Israeli academia is crucial for the advancement of science.

The funds will be awarded to 70 outstanding PhD candidates, with $25,000 a year given to each fellow for 4 years. Recipients will be outstanding research students from the Technion, Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University, in the fields of fundamental physics, mathematics and life sciences.

The “70 for 70 Fellowships” program was officially announced at a ceremony at TAU on Wednesday October 24, 2018. Following the announcement, the first 10 fellows from the three institutions will be chosen. The fellowship program will be managed by TAU.

Yuri Milner founded Mail.ru Group in 1999 and under his leadership it became one of Europe’s leading internet companies. He took that business public in 2010 and founded DST Global to focus on international internet investments. DST Global became one of the world’s leading technology investors, with a portfolio that has included some of the world’s most prominent internet companies, such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Airbnb, Spotify,  Alibaba, and others.

Milner graduated in 1985 with an advanced degree in theoretical physics, subsequently conducted research in quantum field theory and science has remained his passion. In 2012 he and his wife Julia, together with Sergey Brin (Google), Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan (Facebook), and Anne Wojcicki (23&Me), launched the Breakthrough Prizes – the world’s largest scientific awards, honoring important, primarily recent, achievements in fundamental physics, life sciences and mathematics.

In July 2015, together with Stephen Hawking, Milner launched the $100 million Breakthrough Listen initiative to reinvigorate the search for intelligent life in the Universe; and in April 2016 the two launched Breakthrough Starshot, a $100 million research and engineering program to develop the technology for a space probe that could reach another star.

In endowing the “70 for 70 Fellowship”, Milner noted that fundamental science and mathematics are among humanity’s highest achievements, and are also essential for the growth of technological progress that our civilization depends on. “The goal of these fellowships is to help outstanding young researchers contribute to research on the deepest questions,” he said. “TAU, the Hebrew University and the Technion rank among the world’s most innovative universities, providing an environment in which these talented thinkers can reach their potential.”

TAU President Prof. Joseph Klafter thanked Yuri Milner for the large fellowship program. He said that the fellowships will enable outstanding researchers to develop innovative research that may lead to global breakthroughs, strengthening Israel’s position in the areas of elite science and technology.

Prof. Asher Cohen, President of the Hebrew University, added that he believes the fellowships will help outstanding researchers dedicate their time and energy to their work and research, thereby contributing to the advancement of both Israeli and international science.


Prof. Peretz Lavie, President of the Technion, said: “The new fellowships will allow us to further expand the research infrastructure nurturing scientific and technological breakthroughs that impact the lives of millions worldwide. Thanks to Yuri Milner’s generosity, more outstanding researchers will get the opportunity to join the honored ranks of numerous researchers responsible for the exceptional global renown of Israel’s scientific research.”